Data Gathering and Analyzing
Gathering data is a frequent part of solving problems and satisfying curiosity. When we look up information to answer a question or to formulate new questions, we are gathering and analyzing data. When we conduct surveys and draw conclusions from them, we are gathering and analyzing data. This includes a lot of work with graphs and leads to mathematical tools like averaging and other computations.
At the PreK level, we begin gathering data and analyzing by identifying attributes, sorting, and classifying objects.
In kindergarten, students may be ready to begin recording the attributes they observe by using concrete graphing activities, such as picture graphs.
First grade students are often able to collect their own data by developing surveys and tabulating responses. They are continuing their work with picture graphs and manipulative graphs.
By second grade, students can usually formulate more complex surveys or research inquiries. They can use bar graphs to represent their findings and can discern more patterns and draw more conclusions from their data.
Using Picture Books for Data Gathering
Picture books can be sources of data when we collect information on the attributes of characters or other subjects in the book. In addition, picture books can lead us to questions ripe for a survey or to subjects suggesting research.
Data Gathering and Analyzing Activities
Choose a manipulative for each character in the story. You might choose one color for boys and one for girls, one color for children and one for adults, and so on. Setting each piece in a stack with others of the same color results in a manipulative graph of the different types of characters in the story.
You can graph almost anything within a story: numbers of various types of characters or degrees of excitement, fear, or danger within the action, for instance.
Because many books involve problem solving of one sort or another, you can analyze information within the book leading to the solution or lack of solution to the problem.
Many picture books inspire interest in new topics. Choose something of interest and find out more. As you gather information, look for ways that you can organize your information and compare it. Seize opportunities to tabulate findings, graph results, and otherwise manipulate the information you find.
Students might want to create questionnaires from ideas found in the story. They can survey each other, their families, or other classes in the school. Depending on their ages, they can work on creating questions so they can get the most useful data. Follow the survey with various graphs to show information and to draw conclusions based on the data.
If your classroom has a computer with access to the Internet, you can extend your survey to classes across the US or Canada. You might even get lucky and find a class in a more distant country interested in your survey.
Picture Books for Data Gathering and Analyzing
Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno's Flea Market. Putnam, 1984. ISBN 0-399-21031-8
At this flea market, items are grouped by categories; however, it is sometimes a puzzle to figure out the sorting rule.
Baylor, Byrd. Everybody Needs a Rock. Illustrated by Peter Parnall. Simon and Schuster, 1974. ISBN 0-684-13899-9
In beautiful prose the author enumerates ten rules for choosing your own personal rock. In so doing, she shows us many attributes of rocks.
Baylor, Byrd. Guess Who My Favorite Person Is. Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker. Simon and Schuster, 1992. ISBN 0-684-19514-3
The narrator joins a girl in her game called "tell-what-your-favorite-thing-is." Playing the game can become a data gathering and analyzing activity about everyone's favorite things. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 4.)
Blake, Jon. Daley B. Illustrated by Axel Scheffter. Candlewick Press, 1992. ISBN 1-56402-078-9
Daley B., who doesn't know he's a rabbit, collects data from the animals around him so he can decide where to live, what to eat, and what to do with his big feet. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 5.)
Brett, Jan. Town Mouse, Country Mouse. Putnam, 1994. ISBN 0-399-22622-2
There are a couple of twists in Brett's version of the well-known tale. This time it is mouse couples who exchange dwellings. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 8.)
Brown, Ruth. The Picnic. Dutton, 1993. ISBN 0-525-45012-2
A human family goes on a picnic, and we see the events from the point of view of the animals they unwittingly frighten and disturb. The family dog is the main threat to the animals. Take surveys on people's opinions about dogs. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 10.)
Browne, Eileen. No Problem. Illustrated by David Parkins. Candlewick, 1993. ISBN 1-56402-176-9
Mouse gets a disassembled kit from Rat. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 11.)
Carle, Eric. The Grouchy Ladybug. HarperCollins, 1977. ISBN 0-690-013292-2
La mariquita malhumorada. Spanish from Hispanic Book Distributors.
A grouchy ladybug challenges ever bigger animals to a fight.
Cole, Joanna. The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body. Illustrated by Bruce Degen. Scholastic, 1989. ISBN 0-590-40759-7
El autobús mágico en el cuerpo humano. Spanish from Lectorum.
This book in the popular Magic School Bus series finds Ms. Frizzle taking her class on a field trip to the science museum to study the human body. Once again, the unexpected happens and Ms. Frizzle ends up driving them into Arnold's body for a closeup view. The zany story is packed with information about the human body. We can use the information presented in the book to compile and compare information or as a stepping-off point to the collection of data from outside sources about body parts and functions. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 15.)
DeFelice, Cynthia. Mule Eggs. Illustrated by Mike Shenon. Orchard, 1994. ISBN 00531-06843-9
When Patrick, a city slicker, buys a farm, his neighbor decides to take advantage of his naiveté. It takes Patrick a while to discover the trick his neighbor has played on him, but he gets his revenge.
de Regniers, Beatrice Schenk. So Many Cats! Illustrated by Ellen Weiss. Houghton, 1985. ISBN 0-89919-700-0
They started with one cat and then there were more. Each cat becomes part of the household and is described in full. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 17.)
Derby, Sally. The Mouse Who Owned the Sun. Illustrated by Friso Henstra. Simon and Schuster, 1993. ISBN 0-02-766965-3
Mouse lives alone in the deep, dark woods. He's content with his existence because he believes he owns the sun. He thinks so because when he gets up early every morning and asks the sun to rise, it does. At night, when he is sleepy, he gets into bed and asks the sun to set, and it follows his orders. Here's a clear case of data analyzing gone awry. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 18.)
Dunrea, Olivier. Eppie M. Says . . .. Simon and Schuster, 1990. ISBN 0-02-733205-5
Ana B. dice . . . . SRA, 1995. Available in Big Book and Small Book formats from SRA.
Ben Salem tries each thing his sister Eppie M. says. Sometimes he proves her right, other times wrong, and still other times he decides he's not sure whether she's right or wrong. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 20.)
Fox, Mem. Hattie and the Fox. Illustrated by Patricia Mullins. Simon and Schuster, 1988. ISBN 0-02-735470-9
As Hattie, a hen, sees something in the bushes, she identifies the "something" one part at a time until we all know what it is.
Gammell, Stephen. Once Upon MacDonald's Farm. Simon and Schuster, 1984. ISBN 0-02-737210-3
Erasé una vez, en la granja del señor MacDonald. SRA, 1995. Available in Big Book and Small Book formats.
MacDonald's farm had no animals. So he bought an elephant, a baboon, and a lion. Here's an opportunity to collect information about farm animals and their agricultural uses. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 23.)
Guiberson, Brenda. Cactus Hotel. Illustrated by Megan Lloyd. Henry Holt, 1991. ISBN 0-8050-1333-4
We examine the ecology of a desert by observing the life cycle of a giant cactus. The children can gather data about life cycles of various plants and animals. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 24.)
Heine, Helme. The Most Wonderful Egg in the World. Simon and Schuster, 1983. ISBN 0-689-50280-X
Three chickens vie to produce the world's most beautiful egg.
Heller, Ruth. Chickens Aren't the Only Ones. Putnam, 1981. ISBN 0-448-01872-1
Las gallinas no son las únicas. Spanish from Lectorum.
In this strikingly illustrated nonfiction book about egg layers, we see domestic birds, wild birds, insects, and dinosaurs. Collect data from the text or from reference books about the various animals. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 26.)
Henkes, Kevin. Chester's Way. Morrow, 1988. ISBN 0-688-07608-4
Chester, un tipo con personalidad. SRA, 1995. Available in Lap Book and Small Book formats.
Chester and Wilson have so many things in common that they can be hard to tell apart. They cut their sandwiches the same way, they wear matching Halloween costumes, and they always carry a first aid kit, "just in case." (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 27.)
Hill, Elizabeth Starr. Evan's Corner. Illustrated by Sandra Speidel. Penguin USA, 1991. ISBN 0-670-82830-0
In the apartment where Evan lives with his family, there are only two rooms. Evan longs for a place of his own, so his mother gives him his own corner to decorate and make his own. This is a fine opportunity to investigate types of housing and their availability. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 29.)
Hirst, Robin and Hirst, Sally. My Place in Space. Illustrated by Roland Harvey and Joe Levine. Orchard Books, 1990. ISBN 0-531-08459-0
Henry gives his address as 12 Main Street, Gumbridge, Australia, Southern Hemisphere, Earth, solar system, solar neighborhood, Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, local group of galaxies, Virgo Supercluster, the universe. There are numerous opportunities in the study of space to collect and compare data about celestial objects. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 30.)
Hoberman, Mary Ann. A House Is a House for Me. Illustrated by Betty Fraser. Penguin USA, 1978. ISBN 0-670-38016-4
Audiocassette from Live Oak. A rhythmic text matches creatures with homes, starting out logically and then getting a little zanier. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 31.)
Hughes, Shirley. Alfie Gets in First. Morrow, 1982. ISBN 0-688-00849-6
Alfie, a boy of two or three, gets into the row house and slams the door, leaving his mother and baby sister outside without a key. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 32.)
Hurd, Edith Thacher. Wilson's World. Illustrated by Clement Hurd. HarperCollins, 1994. ISBN0-06-443359-5
Wilson paints a beautiful globe. Step by step he paints the evolution of life and civilization and ends up with an overpopulated and polluted mess. He starts over, but this time he paints people who take care of the Earth.
Inkpen, Mick. One Bear at Bedtime. Little, 1988. ISBN 0-316-41889-7
We count all the items on each page, but eventually we search the pages for missing caterpillars.
Johnston, Tony. Farmer Mack Measures His Pig. Illustrated by Megan Lloyd. HarperCollins, 1986. ISBN 0-06-023018-5
The book describes a competition between two pigs to find out which is fatter and the better jumper.
Johnston, Tony. Yonder. Illustrations by Lloyd Bloom. Penguin USA, 1988. ISBN 0-8037-0278-7
This lyrical book tells of a farmer and his wife who build a home and farm, plant a plum tree, and start their family. We watch the seasons pass as the family grows and prospers. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 34.)
Kalan, Robert. Jump, Frog, Jump! Illustrated by Byron Barton. Morrow, 1981. ISBN 0-688-09241-1
¡Salta, ranita, salta! Spanish from Lectorum.
This cumulative tale starts with a fly and ends with a frog nearly being caught by some boys. Each new event becomes part of the pattern. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 36.)
Koller, Jackie French. Fish Fry Tonight. Illustrated by Catharine O'Neill. Random, 1992. ISBN 0-517-57815-8.
When Mouse catches a fish, she declares it to be as big as she. She invites Squirrel and tells him to bring a friend or two for a fish fry. Unfortunately, each animal declares the fish to be as big as it is. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 37.)
McMillan, Bruce. Mouse Views: What the Class Pet Saw. Holiday House, 1993. ISBN 0-8234-1008-0
The items in a classroom are seen from the perspective of a very small mouse.
McMillan, Bruce. Step by Step. Morrow, 1987. ISBN 0-688-07233-X
We watch a little boy getting around from the time he is four months old until he is fourteen months old, and he goes from wiggler to walker in color photographs. The pictures can be used to gather and analyze information on the stages of child development.
Pulver, Robin. Mrs. Toggle's Zipper. Illustrated by Robert W. Alley. Simon and Schuster, 1990. ISBN 0-02-775451-0
Mrs. Toggle, the teacher, got a new winter jacket for Christmas. She put it on and the zipper stuck. Not only that, but the thing-a-ma-jig that you use to open the zipper is missing. Everybody at school gets into the act of extricating Mrs. Toggle. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 44.)
Rylant, Cynthia. The Relatives Came. Illustrated by Stephen Gammell. Simon and Schuster, 1986. ISBN 0-02-777210-1
Vinieron los parients. SRA, 1995. Available in Big Book and Small Book formats.
This is an old-fashioned family reunion where the relatives come from far away and stay for days, giving us ample opportunity to view them and their antics. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 46.)
Stevenson, James. The Mud Flat Olympics. Morrow, 1994. ISBN 0-688-12823-4
The animals are having their own Olympics and, in four short chapters, plus a preface and epilogue, Stevenson presents their efforts in a mock serious tone. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page47.)
Van Allsburg, Chris. The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. Houghton, 1979. ISBN 0-395-27804-X
A dog, Fritz, and a boy enter the garden of a mysterious magician who might have turned Fritz into a duck. There is evidence to support both sides of that argument.
Van Leeuwen, Jean. Emma Bean. Illustrated by Juan Wijngaard. Penguin USA, 1993. ISBN 0-8037-1393-2
Emma is a stuffed animal that watches Molly from birth to adolescence.
Wiesner, David. Tuesday. Houghton, 1991. ISBN 0-395-55113-7
Frogs flying on lily pads invade the village during the night. Police and other investigators find no evidence, except lily pads all over the place. (See the print version of Picturing Math, page 51.)
Young, Ed. Seven Blind Mice. Putnam, 1992. ISBN 0-399-22261-8
Each of seven blind mice sees one part of an elephant and, based on that limited information, identifies it incorrectly.
Zemach, Harve. The Judge: An Untrue Tale. Illustrated by Margot Zemach. Farrar, 1969. ISBN 0-374-33960-0
In this rhyming book, one after another witness is brought before the judge. Each prisoner adds another detail to the description of a monster who is heading their way.
New Books since this article was written
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins. (2004, Houghton. ISBN 0618375945. Order Info.) Nonfiction Picture Book. 28 pages. Gr PreK-3.
This outstanding nonfiction title is another of many wonderful books by Steve Jenkins. His torn paper illustrations created with handmade papers are exquisite and very engaging. In this title animals or parts of animals are shown life size. The eye of a giant squid fills a page and, believe it or not, is beautifully rendered with textured papers. Read More.
Use the life size illustrations in this book to take measurements and collect and compare the data.